Catch a Wave

I am in San Diego as I write this. Earlier this week I was walking on some cool windy beaches and spent some time watching surfers in their wetsuits. Not swimming weather in my opinion! However, allow me to use surfing as an analogy to capture the spirit of revival, beginning with a little more context. That morning I had been thinking about revival. As I was walking along the very windy beach in the blowing sand a song kept rising up in my spirit as I walked and I was quietly singing some lines from it. The song was Shine Jesus Shine by Graham Kendrick, the lyrics are well worth reading and the song one that draws us into worship. The part I was singing over and over was, “Shine, Jesus, shine. Fill this land with the Father’s glory.” It is a song about outpouring, filling and transformation. In a word, revival! The same day that I was walking and worshipping the winds were so strong that one of the major parks was closed due to trees being blown over. The weather report said they had last experienced winds like this in the 90’s. So back to surfing, starting with my observations.

The first observation is that surfers spend the vast majority of their time waiting and preparing. They are paddling while looking for the big wave. They are not casually resting on their boards; they are looking out at the waves in expectation and preparing for them. As the waves come rolling in, they need to time their paddling with the wave. If they start to paddle too soon, they miss they wave, if they start to paddle too late, they miss the wave. Once they catch the wave they need to quickly get on their board and balance. They then need to pay attention to the wave and ride it back and forth to maintain their place on it.

 Now to the revival application. Whether we think of revival as a move of the Spirit, wind from the Spirit or a variety of other perspectives, a wave is simply one example of something that moves powerfully that we can join with and be caught up in. Having studied revival over the years I see the wave application. I believe we need to both pray and prepare. Revivals in history were always preceded by prayer, preparation and expectation. At times people missed the moment (wave) because they didn’t like the package it came in. For example, it was said that the bloodline washed away the colour barrier at Asuza Street. Here the different ethnicities came together and worshipped, yet at that time in history some were offended at this integration and missed the wave. For others the wave was too wild and they missed it because they were offended by excesses.

The Toronto Blessing from the 1990’s is another example. I am confident there were spirits present leading people to do things that were not from the Holy Spirit. I am also confident that some people simply did things out of emotional immaturity or a desire for attention. I am however very confident that the Holy Spirit initiated and led the outpouring and people came from all over the world and were touched and transformed by the Spirit.  

If errors are our focus in a revival season, we will miss the big wave being offended by the little ones. Fleshly excesses have always accompanied moves of the Spirit. We navigate a move of the Spirit by focusing on the genuine and remaining humble. Scripture exhorts us to test all things and hold fast to the good.

21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.  1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 (NKJV)  

In conclusion, let us pray for revival, let us prepare our hearts and when we see the wave let us paddle out to meet it, join it and ride it while paying close attention to the Spirit to navigate what He is doing.

A further Application Addendum regarding Wind and the Spirit

Jesus said the following in likening the wind and the Spirit

8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8 (NKJV)

We then have Acts 2.

1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Acts 2:1–2 (NKJV)

The Holy Spirit at times reveals Himself through wind. I referenced the strong winds the day I was walking on the beach worshipping and praying. I had sand blown into both of my ears due to the wind. I mentioned the trees being blown over. When the wind is blowing over trees, things are being uprooted! If this represents a wind of the Spirit, is He wanting to uproot and remove things from our lives?

I had another experience with wind when we were in Scotland in June 2018. On June 12th we toured Edinburgh Castle and I saw the small room where King James VI of King James Bible fame, was born. On the 13th took the train out to Stirling Castle. We toured the castle, the Wallace Monument and looked into the Church of the Rude just outside the gates of Stirling Castle. That day Edinburgh Castle was closed and parts of Stirling and the Wallace Monument due to the strong winds. A guide informed us this was only the second time since the 1990’s that the castle had been closed.   

The significance of the city of Stirling is that it is where William Wallace first fought Edward I of England and liberated Scotland, where King James VI was raised, though he was born in Edinburgh Castle. It was also here that John Knox preached, shook a nation and also presided over King James VI’s baptism and coronation at the church of Rude.

I believe these winds I have referenced prophetically speak of a move of the Spirit that is coming that will blow back in old things that were spiritually significant, uproot and remove things that offend His heart and sweep the church into His purpose. In closing here is what Knox uttered on his deathbed. May we live likewise. “Whatever influenced me to utter whatever the Lord put into my mouth so boldly, and without respect of persons, was a reverential fear of my God, who called and of his grace appointed me to be a steward of divine mysteries, and a belief that he will demand an account of the manner in which I have discharged the trust committed to me, when I shall stand at last before his tribunal.”

Gifts and Calling

In my last post I wrote about being faithful with our gifts and callings and the need to discern what they are and exercise them. Here I will look at the relationship between gifts and callings. A verse that highlights this is in Romans.

29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Romans 11:29 (NKJV)

Contextually this is about the calling of Israel as a nation and people group and the gift Yahweh gave of them being His representative nation in the earth. While the verse is about a national calling Paul’s point illustrates the fact that there is a link between gifts and callings. Let’s explore it.

Gifts in scriptural language are something given that enable us to do something. The word used in the Romans 11 verse above is charisma. Charisma is also used in Romans 12:6-8 to refer to different gifts or abilities and it is used in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 in referring to spiritual gifts. Charisma is also used in Hebrews 5 to refer to gifts offered on the altar by the priest in the Old Testament.

While a gift is something given not earned, it is also an ability to do something. It is related to charis, which is translated as grace in the New Testament. John Wimber used to describe spiritual gifts as ‘gracelets.’ Grace, beyond being unmerited favour, is God’s enablement to carry out His calling. In essence He gives us gifts to do something, an ability to function in His kingdom and respond to His calling.

While a gift is the ability to do something a calling is a summons. In our calling the Lord is summoning us to a task that He has gifted us for. Israel was summoned to be a light to the nations and had the ability to do so if they walked in obedience to Yahweh’s commands. The prophetic voices in the Old Testament are littered with examples of their rebellion and refusal to walk in their calling. Though as a nation they failed, because the gifts and calling are irrevocable the light did come through them. The light was Jesus.

2 The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined. Isaiah 9:2 (NKJV)

16The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.” Matthew 4:16 (NKJV)

Seeing this we can be confident that He will accomplish His purpose in the future as He has in the past.

Now to apply this to our lives. Each of us have both a gift or gifts and a calling. A good example is my friend Lynn. She teaches school and is also a worship leader. It doesn’t require much discernment to see that Lynn is both gifted and called to teach. Not all who attempt to teach have a teaching gift, some have a job. True teachers have a gift and are responding to a calling. Lynn is one, yet her greatest gift and calling is to lead others into His presence through worship. It is important to note there is a distinction between musical ability and worship. Many gifted musicians who are Christians are not anointed to lead worship.  

I had the privilege of helping Lynn to lead a small group for a number of years where we focused on worship and prayer ministry. What makes Lynn so effective is that in the realm of worship she has developed and deepened her gift in response to her calling. Her heart is drawn to worship and through her responsiveness to Jesus has been trained by Him to draw others into His presence as she worships. Her gift has been cultivated.

While we may be familiar with the term cultivated, we need to look at the origin. There is the idea of cultivation in terms of refinement and culture. However, when a farmer is cultivating his field, he is not becoming a refined gentleman, he is preparing and working the land. Hard and gritty activities. The soil needs to be prepared, sown, tended and harvested. Out gifts need to be developed through preparing our hearts, sowing into them through prayer and practice and harvesting a functioning calling.  

            We are each called to follow Jesus and we are each gifted to demonstrate our following Him through a responsive heart. Here is how Paul put it in a representative list.

6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12:6–8 (NKJV)

Paul’s primary exhortation here is to develop our gifts by using them, having a responsive heart. We all have inner tugs and urgings from the Spirit. When we follow them, we walk in our gifts and calling. Let’s cultivate the habit of following them to further His kingdom purposes.  


            We are likely familiar with the parable of the talents. There are two different versions. The first is found in Matthew 25:14-30 and the second in Luke 19:11-27. The versions are different because Jesus would have taught the same stories in different ways as He travelled about teaching. I am looking at Matthew’s version. When I have heard teaching on the subject the focus has always been on the outcome. Instead of that let’s start at the beginning. At points in my career, particularly in my management roles, there were sometimes ridiculous expectations rather than realistic goals. I once told my staff that what we were being expected to do was ‘change the tire while driving down the highway!’ Goals that stretch us are useful but they still need to be realistic. My response to the ridiculous was, “If you goal for me this year is to be able to jump over the building at the end of the year, we need a new goal as that isn’t going to happen.” In the parable of the talents Jesus presents the goal or task as realistic.

14 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. 15 And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his own ability; and immediately he went on a journey. Matthew 25:14–15 (NKJV)

            Here we have a man who had servants and gave them responsibility according to their ‘ability.’ That is, the owner gave each servant an area of responsibility based on what he could realistically be expected to achieve. Jesus embedded a principle here. Our Father has given to each of us talents, gifts or abilities. When our lives are weighed at the end of this age, He will not compare what we have done with what someone else has accomplished. His assessment will be based on what we have done with what we have been given. The two talents servant wasn’t expected to achieve what the five talents servant accomplished. He was expected to achieve what he was able to accomplish with two talents.

            I think one of the problems we have in the church is a tendency to focus on or desire the talents of others without really seeing our own. For example, I may want to be a great preacher and look at great preachers I admire and wish I could be like them. However, that would be wasting my time, and my talent. I have often said over the years that I like neither giving or receiving lectures. I am a teacher not a preacher. I want to engage and interact with people not talk at them. If I look at and seek to learn from great interactive teachers that is a good use of my time. Trying to be a great preacher wouldn’t be.   

            Part of my teaching gift is writing, this being an example. Over the years my friend Wouter has spoken into my life a good deal about my writing and in heeding his advice my writing has improved. Wouter is a gifted teacher and taught high school English for decades. I would be foolish to not receive his advice and corrections. At the same time, though we both teach our styles are not the same and my goal is not to teach or write like Wouter, it is to teach and write well as Randy. I heard Josh McDowell say something nearly forty years ago. He said, “If you spend all of your time being someone else who is going to spend all of their time being you.” That has always stuck with me.

            Each of us have gifts and talents, each of us has a calling from Jesus. There are cases where people have developed gifts that weren’t obvious early on. I know of more than one person who felt called by Jesus to play a musical instrument and be a worshipper. They then just ‘did it’ with no formal training. Jesus calling them activated something He had put in them. A qualifier here, musical training and ability does not in and of itself make one a worship leader. I have heard skilled musicians in church who frankly do not understand worship nor can they lead others into His presence. (My next post will address the pairing of gifts and calling).

            Aside from worship and teaching there are many gifts and callings. We each need to discern ours through prayer, input from others and our inner sense of calling. When we do that and consistently live it out we can look forward to these words at the end of the age, ‘well done good and faithful servant’ (Matthew 25:21).

Walking Well

            Given the time of year there are a plethora of prophetic declarations regarding what the Lord is going to do in 2023. Most are promises of wonderful things that don’t come to pass but they are still put forth each year. Some are balanced and talk about the blessing of His presence in the midst of difficulties. Some are vague and general and some are very specific. A recurring one is the recognition of the need for revival and awakening in the church and prayer to that end. I hold to that promise and continue to intercede for it.

Now to my word for the year. I have had specific ones in the past. I don’t have one this year except something He spoke to me nearly three decades ago from 1 Corinthians.

2 Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful. 1 Corinthians 4:2 (NKJV)

To understand this, we need to look at the context, what we are to steward, and what it means to steward something. The context is Paul speaking of being a steward of the mysteries of God.

1 Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 1 Corinthians 4:1 (NKJV)

Paul saw his responsibility to be faithful with what God had entrusted to him and recognized his calling as a servant, an underling to the Lord. While none of us are Paul the Lord has given each of us callings and gifts and our calling is to be wise stewards of what He has given. I don’t know each of your specific callings and gifts. However, I do know for example that each of us have been called to live out Matthew 28:18-20, The Great Commission. Given that let’s take a closer look at stewardship.

There is a good example of failed stewardship in popular culture that has often come to mind for me. It is from The Lord of the Rings series. In the one movie the Steward of Gondor had been entrusted with responsibility for the city and surrounding country. His responsibility is to maintain and look after the city and surrounding area until the rightful king shows up. In the movie he is aware that the rightful heir to the throne is coming and that he is to yield the throne to him and serve him. Rather than functioning as a steward he begins to act like an owner and refuses to welcome or yield to the coming king. He instead focuses on his own food and comfort while the city he is responsible for was under attack and falling to the enemy. He has in effect attempted to keep his position while abandoning his responsibility! This is similar to the expression, ‘Nero fiddled while Rome burned.’ Nero had also been given a stewardship (Romans 13:1-3) which he miserably failed to carry out.

We do not want to function like the Steward of Gondor or Nero, we want to be found faithful. If our calling is to prayer let us pray. If our calling is to evangelism let us evangelize. If it is to encouragement let us encourage. Paul provides examples for us.

6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; 7 or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; 8 he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12:6–8 (NKJV)

If we do respond to this with a right heart, we are faithful stewards. I know in my life that whether I see revival or need to remain in the place of intercession awaiting it, I plan to be faithful to do what I can with what I have where I am.

            In considering our own stewardship it may look different for each of us. What is consistent is the need to consider is our present degree of faithfulness with what He has already tasked us with doing. I spent my career in the social services field and there was an expression, ‘The best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour.’ If we have not been faithful in the past, we are not positioned to be faithful in the future. If that is our present state, we can shift our future through repentance (a change of heart and mind) that leads to engaging in different behaviour. Once we make this shift the best predictor of our future behaviour will be the new behaviour that we are engaging in. Let us be found faithful and this year will lay a foundation for continued faithfulness next year and beyond.